Memories and Snow...

It's time for me to start meditating on a regular basis again. I have never been very good at it, but just the act of sitting still for a few minutes and calming my thoughts does wonders for me. Last night, I found myself getting snippy with my kids and then my husband, and I know that I get that way when I'm stretched too far. My goal for the coming weeks will be to find a way to sit still and take a few deep breaths from time to time. 

We watched the movie "Boyhood" last weekend, and I can't stop thinking about it. It's not exciting, and my husband dozed on and off throughout the movie. But it's beautiful. There were several aspects of the boy's childhood that I could relate to my own, and I thought about what my own movie would look like. What are main memories I have of my childhood - the big moments as well as the little, seemingly insignificant ones that have stuck with me all these years?  They've been playing in my head all week. How did they influence who I am today?

As I read to the boys this week, one snuggled in on each side, I thought about their childhoods. They are really only now getting to the point of forming lasting memories, especially my little Nathan. I think about the kind of childhood they're having. On on hand, I only want them to have happy memories, and yet at the same time I know that we all grow through the hard parts. I also know that I will not always be the biggest influence in their lives. Love is letting go, little by little, and allowing them to grow. Figuring out when to hold on and when to let go is the trick, and we're only at the beginning.


After too much work lately, I am very much looking forward to a family-focused weekend. We're set to get our first snowstorm of the winter tomorrow, which means movies and hot chocolate and snuggling in front of the fireplace. On Sunday, after the storm passes, we will be playing in the snow. Hoping to get a day on the slopes nearby.

Making memories...


Ages and Ages - Do the Right Thing

I just love this song and this video. It makes me smile. This album was put back into heavy rotation over the last couple of weeks - it seems to fit my mood and desire to keep things light and energetic during this cold and dreary January.  


This and That...

I'm definitely back in full swing at work. I go back and forth between loving it and wanting to pull the covers over my head, feeling fulfilled and guilty, being tired and exhilarated. On one hand, I feel guilty that our boys have had inconsistencies in their after-school care. I feel guilty that they often need to go to school early so that we can get to work. On the other hand, I know without a doubt that it is a good thing for them to see their father making lunches and doing school drop-off. It's a good thing for them to see me working. I know I need to come to terms with this state of being, because I would no doubt be doing the same thing if I was not working. In fact, just last year I was!

Kevin and I filled each other's stockings for Christmas. One of the items I put in his was the Taylor Swift CD, 1989. I knew it was his guilty pleasure, and he readily admitted to cranking up the volume every time "Blank Space" came on the radio. I thought it was funny, but little did I know how much he would love it. Since then, I have caught all three of my boys singing TS songs under their breath around the house. I am okay with this. (And yes, Sara, we are jelly. ;-)

Taylor Swift, via billboard

I've been in that January state of mind. I purchased an organization system to store all the boys' art supplies - that clean set of drawers and baskets makes me so happy. I filled a couple more boxes to be donated. I organized our closet. After the excess of the holiday season, all I want to do is get rid of stuff!

Speaking of excess, I've also been mindful of our diet. Another typical January activity...We just ate cheese and cookies and drank wine for an entire month - now let's cut it all out! I'm not one for any kind of elimination diet or cleanse - moderation is my friend. That said, I decided to cut out alcohol for the month of January. Ice cream too. I'm in a general rhythm of a greek yogurt and granola for breakfast, a big salad and/or soup for lunch, and a small balanced dinner with the family. With some dark chocolate snacks after the boys go to bed, because like I said, I am not about to deprive myself of everything!

We went to a concert last weekend - an annual benefit concert for a local charity foundation. We went last year too. This year, we not only got to see Kay Hanley and Tanya Donelly (Belly), but we saw The Juliana Hatfield Three perform for the first time in 20 years. All their songs brought me back to my college days. Sunny days on campus, and going to clubs to see shows. It was so fun to see them.

Juliana Hatfield

Work interrupted the weekend, but we did also make time to hit the bookstore. I am a sucker for books, and the stack on my nightstand is getting low. I'm not near the end of my current book, but it's always nice to have something to look forward to. And the bookstore is a pretty fun outing. The boys each spent some of their allowance money, of which I heartily approve, and I picked up a couple for me and Kevin too.

We're looking forward to our next vacation - more skiing next month! Before that, I'm trying to plan a quick girls' ski weekend. Let's see if it's possible for a few working moms to plan an outing just for us. I think it is. We're also dreaming of a warmer vacation...perhaps celebrating Kevin's 40th on a beach somewhere? Anything's possible...  And then we need to plan the summer.

It's January. A time for cleaning, purging, eating healthy, exercising, organizing, and planning. A time to look forward to the rest of the year in anticipation. Welcome 2015!


Recently Read

The Children Act, by Ian McEwan.  I really want to love all of Ian McEwan's books.  The first of his books that I read was 'Atonement', which I absolutely adored.  Since then, I've started his books with very high expectations, and I almost always feel let down. This book was good. It was interesting. The writing, as always, is beautiful and true. But it just never grabbed me, and I never felt a true connection with the characters.

Suspect, by Robert Crais.  This is not a book I would've normally picked up. I received it in a gift basket we won from our local library during last summer's reading challenge. I am not normally drawn to thrillers or crime dramas, but I read it anyway, and I rather enjoyed it.

Us, by David Nicholls.  I am not sure how I feel about this book. On one hand, it's such a realistic story, and the family dynamics are perfectly portrayed. I really felt for all of the characters. On the other hand, maybe it was a little too realistic? I found it somewhat sad, even though it ends in a perfectly satisfactory way. I guess I usually wish for that Hollywood happy ending and feel a little let down when it doesn't deliver. But maybe it's better - and all the more touching - exactly because it's not a typical happy ending.


Do Less With More Focus...

This is my goal for the year.  It's difficult, because there are so many things that I want to do and that need doing, but when I try to do everything, I constantly feel like I'm failing.  I have to make choices, and certainly there are things that can be eliminated.  It's a good goal.  

As I skied with my boys over the holiday, I focused.  I took in all the beauty and fun of a vacation with quality family time. Now, let's be perfectly honest:  skiing is hard.  Skiing with kids is really hard.  There's so much stuff - to pack, to carry, to store, to put on, to take off...  Every year, I have moments where I question our sanity in doing it. It's expensive, it's cold, it's difficult. But then I watch Nathan shaking his behind at me to show me how he's perfecting his turns, I hear Aaron shout "woo-hoo!" after landing a jump, I breathe in the cold, clear mountain air and admire the scenery, and there is absolutely no question - it's worth it. 

I thoroughly enjoyed every run, frozen fingers and all, I took in the beauty of the surrounding mountains, and I smiled at the fun my boys were having in front of me. I also loved the hot chocolates and the games of Uno in the lodge and a visit to friends and movie nights.  It was beautiful.  

the ride to the top

best spot in the lodge!


Family Time...

I'm so happy to report that I have been able to log some couch time. I've also managed a couple mornings of sleeping in, and I feel so much better. We also have a line on a new sitter for the remainder of the school year. It's all coming together.

We enjoyed a lovely holiday, with the highlight for me being Christmas Eve. We attended the Boston Pops' Holiday concert, as we do every year. We went out to lunch, and then we snuggled on the couch to watch 'Home Alone'. Kevin made his traditional lobster mac 'n cheese for dinner. Kevin and Aaron walked up to the family service at our neighborhood church while Nathan and I worked on a puzzle. Perfect. Just a wonderful day all around. 

We spent a couple days with family, and the boys were overloaded with toys. Despite our efforts to keep it simple, gifts from extended family overrule, and certainly the boys don't mind. They got a lot of really great and fun and even some practical gifts. After a couple days, Nathan couldn't wait to get home to play with them all, and Aaron has been heads-down on his Santa gift - a Chima lego set - since we arrived.

And now we're preparing for a few days of skiing to welcome in the new year. It will be great, but I admit that my thoughts will be on my family as well. We lost an uncle, and they will be celebrating his life this week. I'm sad that I won't be able to join them, but I will be sending love from afar. It certainly puts everything into perspective. Family and friends. There's nothing more important.


All I Want For Christmas...

...is some time on the couch. Truly. I've been trying to soak in as much of the season as possible, decorating the tree, and sending/receiving cards, and watching the Grinch, and making cookies, and wrapping presents... But when the day finally arrives, what I'm really looking forward to most is snuggling with all my boys on the couch and watching a movie. I'm looking forward to a little rest. 

The holiday season has seemed especially short and fast this year, and after three months back at work, I'm officially back to reactive, struggling-to-keep-up mode. This bums me out. I had such high hopes for being able to stay organized and adjusting to the new schedule in a way that would allow me to stay on top of things. Alas. I will admit that it is easier than it was a couple years ago, but it's still pretty darn hard. 

In acknowledging how quickly the holiday season flies by, I've recognized that we are in prime Christmas years with the boys. They are both still avid Santa believers, making their lists and getting excited for Christmas morning. Nathan refuses to mail his list to Santa, needing to add "just one more thing" almost every day. Their lists are full of really fun items, and I expect to spend a good amount of time building lego sets during the break. They love helping me make and decorate cookies, and they get excited to go to the Holiday Pops concert at Symphony Hall - we're going tomorrow, and I can't wait! 

I know that in just a few short years, they won't play the Santa game any more, and their excitement will be more about spending time with friends and going to the movies. They may not want to make cookies with me, or go to the Pops concert. When that happens, I will probably write about it here, as Lou recently did.  It's okay, and it's all part of the phases of life. In the meantime, I want to make sure that I am fully present during this wonderfully exciting time that is right now.

picture by Jenna at sweet fine day



My sweet boy is eight. I want to take the hands of the clock and hold them still, but I sigh and celebrate the passing of time instead. Having a blog is fun for many reasons, but one reason is being able to look back at posts like this and this and this. Some people have scrapbooks and baby albums. I have a blog. As the years have passed, I've shared a little less of my boys, and I suspect that trend will continue as they get older. But I'm happy I've been able to capture some of the highlights here. I do create family photo albums, but here is where I capture some of the details. Such as...

This year Aaron requested a lego-themed party, and he loved helping me come up with the activities. We had "guess how many legos in the jar", a bean bag toss, pin the head on the lego guy, a memory game, a scavenger hunt, and finally...an Emmet piƱata of course. In-between activities the kids enjoyed ice cream sundaes, which has become his tradition as well. He invited three girls and three boys - a perfect-sized group of great kids getting together to celebrate one fabulous boy.  


Ups and Downs and Looking Forward...

The holiday season is always a busy one, and it's especially full this year. I've had to say no to some of our usual activities, including homemade gifts and presents to my siblings, and we'll probably only fit in one day of cookie-making. That's okay, of course, but I admit that it's been difficult. I feel like the season is rushing by, and I haven't been able to stop long enough to fully appreciate it. It's not over yet, though, and I plan to get my fill. 

Kevin and I attended my office holiday party last week. It was at Fenway Park, and the above photo shows our view. It was a ton of fun, and it only reinforced my decision to join such a great group of people. The people make all the difference. 

In other happy news, I'm happy that Nathan has requested "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for his bedtime story for the past few nights. It's my favorite. I'm happy that the grocery store had the good egg nog this week. I'm happy that my mom got to see "Elf" for the first time when she was here. 

Things are going well overall, but I admit that our weekends are more full of errands than I'd like, and due to more sitter issues, it's been a particularly stressful week. The arrangement works great when it works, but when things get thrown off balance, everything gets really hard. 

In other words, we are all ready for the Christmas break. We are planning on attending the Holiday Pops concert on Christmas Eve, spending a quiet night at home with just the four of us. I can't wait to watch the first Harry Potter movie with Aaron. I am going to thoroughly enjoy cookies and Kevin's lobster mac 'n cheese. I am eager to see the boys' excitement on Christmas morning. In the meantime, I'm going to listen to lots of Christmas music and take it one day at a time.


My Favorite Music of 2014

I know I haven't been posting much lately, but I still wanted to document my favorite music of the year.  It's always fun to go through my playlist to come up with my list of favorites. My boys are starting to be exposed to more mainstream pop music (gasp!), as well as some of my old-school favorites (we had an awesome dance party to James Brown a few weeks ago), so they only had a few new songs that really got them going on this list. I don't know what that says, but there it is. I was really happy we got to see a few of these performed live this year - Noah Gundersen, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Jack White, First Aid Kit, and Shovels & Rope. And without further adieu...

Noah Gundersen - Ledges
Hurray for the Riff Raff - Small Town Heroes
Wye Oak - Shriek
Nikki Lane - All Or Nothin'

Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain
Jack White - Lazaretto
Field Report - Marigolden
First Aid Kit - Stay Gold

The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream
Ages & Ages - Divisionary
Hozier - Hozier
Trampled by Turtles - Wild Animals

Jenny Lewis - The Voyager
Shovels & Rope - Swimmin' Time
Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams
Delta Spirit - Into the Wide

The Black Keys - Turn Blue
The Apache Relay - Apache Relay
The Orwells - Disgraceland
Real Estate - Atlas

Honorable Mentions:  St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Parquet Courts, Lake Street Dive, Nickel Creek, Beck, St. Vincent, Spoon.


And So It Begins...

It's December, and I'm a little stunned by this fact. Thanksgiving is behind us, and the holiday season has officially begun.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, with a little exhaustion and stress mixed in.  I guess that just goes with the territory when you cram a house full of family. My low point came about 5 minutes before the big meal, when my kids started whining about not wanting to sit at the kids' table. That in and of itself wouldn't have bothered me so much, but those crucial minutes when you're trying to get everything on the table - and preferably warm - at the same time are stressful enough without listening to whining on top of it. So I did what I sometimes do - I yelled. And this is how our Thanksgiving celebration began, I'm ashamed to admit.

Thankfully, I regained my composure a couple minutes later, and we pulled stools up to the table and crowded everybody around.  I read the feathers on our soup can turkey, on which everyone listed things for which they are grateful. That's a nice way to start a meal. Largely due to the little-kid factor, the meal itself seemed to last about 10 minutes.  I'm looking forward to the day when we are able to leisurely enjoy conversation around a big table. But of course when that day comes, I bet I'll look back fondly at the chaotic holidays with little kids. That's the way it goes...

Overall, we enjoyed several fun days together. We played in the snow, went sledding, watched movies, played games, and we even got a kid-free night out at a Bruins hockey game in the city. It flew by, and now the house feels a little too empty, too quiet.

What seems too quickly, we turn our attention towards the remainder of the holiday season.  We decorated the tree, watched Elf and Charlie Brown, we discussed lists and presents and New Year's plans.  We went back to work today, with a full long weekend behind us, a beautiful month in front of us, and memories with us forever.

There's not much more exciting than getting the sled out for the first time.

Football in the snow.  That's an awfully cute huddle.

The annual soup can turkey.  So much to be thankful for.


Happy Day...

My house is full of family, and it smells like good food and candles.  There is much to be thankful for. 
It continues to be a busy time for us, and this break will be very much appreciated. 
I'm going to cook and eat and play games and hug my kids and talk with family and savor every moment of it. 
I'm going to reflect on all that is great in my life. 
Happy Thanksgiving!


Trampled by Turtles

Sometimes I let myself get stuck on one album for a while.  Lately, it's been Trampled by Turtles


Keira and Amy...

I just wanted to pop in and share two things I enjoyed immensely last week.

The movie Begin Again. My sister told me several months ago that I should see this movie. I finally had the opportunity to see it, and she was absolutely right. It's somewhat similar to Once, and it's directed and written by the same person. It's perhaps not a classic in the same way as Once, but it's a really lovely movie with beautiful music, and I found myself smiling throughout. Highly recommend.

Amy Poehler's new book, Yes Please.  I devoured it in a couple days, and it left me wanting more.  She does the obligatory behind-the-scenes stuff, describing life at SNL and on the set of Parks and Recreation, including information about each of her co-stars, and tid-bits about some of the SNL hosts.  All that is fun, but the more personal information is way more interesting to me. That she's from Boston, is in her early 40s, and has two little boys are just some of the ways I could relate to her. In short, I loved it.


Recently Read

The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert.  The story is set in the 1800s, and the main character is a woman by the name of Alma Whittaker. She is the daughter of the wealthiest man in Philadelphia, and she is a botanist. The book is essentially the story of her life, which is a life of privilege and a life of science. It is a long narrative, and the scope is grand. It actually starts with her father's journey into the botanical/pharmaceuticals business. The story is engaging, as is the scientific and intellectual discussion, but it does require some patience as the plot does not advance quickly. Overall, I was impressed by this book.

Defending Jacob, by William Landay.  This book definitely sucked me in and didn't let me go until the very end. I read it quickly and didn't want to put it down until I was done, so it didn't take long. It's sad, frustrating, thrilling, interesting, surprising, and ultimately heartbreaking. And definitely worthy of a read.

Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham. Another extremely fast read. First, I will admit that I've never seen 'Girls', so what I knew of Lena Dunham going in was just what I've read and seen of her on interviews. I appreciate her self-confidence, and I think that's what inspired me to pick this up. I'm not sure how to summarize my feelings about the book - I loved it, and I didn't love it. I admire the honesty and the bravery it takes to publish such personal thoughts and feelings and experiences with the world. At the same time, I did feel that she didn't come to many conclusions or lessons learned through them all - maybe this book was written too soon?  But as an honest expression of the thoughts and feelings of a twenty-something girl in the world...it's wonderful.


Aging Tricks and Treats...

I have started this post about nine times. Sometimes it's hard to calm my mind long enough to express a thought, so I'm just going to dump some of it out here and see if we can sort out the mess together, okay?

I've been feeling old lately. I know, I know, but there it is. Just as if your kids can somehow seem to "grow overnight", it seems that we can encounter days where we feel like we've aged overnight. At least I have. Little things like noticing the looseness of skin on my cheeks and eyes. My stomach is also not what it used to be. I'm not complaining, truly - I'm strong, I'm healthy, I'm comfortable in my body. But it's weird to notice the changes along the way.

I've also been feeling a little old at work, so I've been adjusting there as well. I'm at a point where some of the people above me are now younger than I am. I read an article recently about "resume mistakes that make you appear old" and realized I did several of them. (I honestly didn't know you were only supposed to put one space after a period now. When did this happen?)

I've made several updates to my wardrobe, and now I'm trying to stop. I may own too many pairs of black shoes, but I still don't have the perfect pair of work loafers or boots. I haven't found that trench yet either. But I'm enjoying my new outfits, and I'm having fun getting dressed up for work.

Halloween was fun, and although an illness forced us to change our plans, the boys still declared it "the best night ever"!  Aaron was Dustin Pedrioa (Red Sox player) and Nathan was Raphael (teenage mutant ninja turtle).  They got giant bags of candy, ate themselves silly, and fortunately traded more than half of it (almost all for Nathan) for books the next day.  I had the goal to be done with it by today, and with only two lollipops left for Nathan, I'll call that success.

Last night, we went out to dinner and a Noah Gundersen concert. We were both tired, in the way that a cold dreary weekend with a time change will make you tired, but it was worth it. It was good to get out of the house, to connect with Kevin, to hear beautiful music. Of course, today I am now tired in the way that a late night on a school night will make you tired. Still...worth it.

I need to find more me-time in the schedule. It's always the first thing to go, isn't it? It's getting harder to get up early to exercise, and I'm not finding those quiet moments to recharge. I have to figure out how to schedule and preserve those. At the same time, I want to plan more time with friends. I don't want to fall back into the situation of being crazy busy all the time without being deliberate about how we're spending that time. I know stuff has to get done, but...priorities. Time with the boys, family, friends, taking care of ourselves, having fun. Living life. After all, we're getting older every day.


Don't Call Him Shy

The highlight of last week was attending Aaron's first piano recital. He was so brave and proud, and my heart literally bursts at the thought of it. My little boy - the one who cried every. single. day when I dropped him off at day care, who would bury his face in my legs rather than speak to a person he did not know - is growing. He's taking risks, learning, pushing himself. 

We were always careful not to label Aaron as "shy", because although he was at the time, we didn't want him to believe that it would always be so. We also tried not to push him to do something he wasn't comfortable doing. He had the opportunity to play in a recital last year, but he didn't want to do it. We didn't force him to; instead, he and I attended the recital together to watch the other kids, so he could see what it was like. When the opportunity came up this year, he hesitated a little, but he came to the decision on his own that it was something he should do.

He is still relatively reserved - he's not going to be the one in the front row, raising his hand and begging to give the answer - but his confidence is growing. He will look people in the eye, answer questions when asked, speak his mind, and he will get up in front of a whole room filled with strangers (and his family) to introduce himself and play piano. And I couldn't be prouder.


A Few Things...

I just love this picture posted to UNC's instagram.

Beyond Work/Life Balance - Living the Life You Want.  I think this post speaks to my thoughts about the word "balance".  There is no such thing.  There's no right amount of time you're supposed to spend at home versus at work.  No set time guidelines on playing with your kids or achieving a personal goal.  I don't want to think about it that way any more.  I just spent two years at home, and it was wonderful and great for us as a family.  I'm back at work, and even though I'm spending less time with my boys, I believe it's good for us as a family too.  And I'm working to make sure that the time I do spend with my boys is quality time, that they still know that I will always be there.

Bill Murray is doing a Christmas special.  This news just made me smile.

I've always been a little conflicted about GMOs.  I mean, since the beginning of farming, humans have cross-bred species and come up with ways of making crops stronger.  I remember learning about the guy who won a Nobel Prize for coming up with a new species of wheat - it was shorter, so they could grow more of it in a smaller space and therefore feed more people.  Brilliant!  So when all the uproar began about GMOs, I didn't understand at first. I get it now. I found this report to be especially interestingBill Nye the Science Guy summed it up very reasonably in this short video.

25 Feminist Lessons for My Sons.  Yes, yes, yes. I work so hard at this. I know that I am not the only influences in my boys' lives, but I do want to stay the loudest for as long as possible. At least until some of these lessons are firmly ingrained in who they are. They are already influenced by so much at school, and I have to push back. I remind them that girls can like legos and superheroes, and boys can wear purple. And I am certainly making sure they know how to do laundry, cook, and put the toilet seat down.

I saw Gone Girl last weekend.  It was just as good as the book - creepy, twisted, strangely captivating, and ultimately disappointing.  I do adore Ben Affleck, and this clip on The Ellen Show made me laugh.  Oh and speaking of Ben, did you see Jennifer Garner confirm her baby bump on Ellen?  I have had a huge girl crush on Jennifer since she was Sydney Bristow on Alias.  This just made it stronger. 

I loved hearing Ryan Adams' cover of Alice in Chains. Such a great song.

A Cure For Hyper Parenting.  Another good article reminding all us parents to calm down. Let's just do the best we can. It's all good.


Taking Stock

Savoring:  Every moment of Fall.  Little boys jumping in leaf piles made my heart smile this weekend.
Eating:  Vegetarian Chili. I used this recipe, given to me by a friend. I made it just a tad too spicy - note for next time - but it was so good and perfect for a chilly Fall day.
Drinking:  Pumpkin ales.  It's that time of year.
Deciding:  It's the end of ice cream season.  Lest you think I deny myself, it's the start of pie and cookies season. 
Watching:  Nashville and Parenthood when Kevin's out of town (as he was last week).  Friday Night Lights together. We've both seen the entire series, but while we have Netflix...  There's nothing like a little dose of Tim Riggins.
Wanting:  Shoes that are stylish, look good with suits and work trousers, and comfortable enough to walk in all day.  SO hard to find that. 
Listening:  To my iTunes library on shuffle. Finding old favorites and bringing back memories.
Needing: To start planning for the holidays. Halloween is next week! Time really starts to fly after that.
Smelling:  The "Autumn Leaves" Yankee candle burning in the dining room.  And real autumn leaves outside. 
Feeling:  Optimistic. It's coming more naturally to me these days.
ReadingDefending Jacob. I'm about a third of the way through and totally sucked in.
Making: Lists. Trying to get back into a routine of managing my to-do lists and staying on top of everything.
Needing:  A cool-but-not-cold weather trench (or other lightweight) coat.  I've tried dozens at this point but haven't found the perfect one.  Pretty soon it's going to be cold enough for my winter coat, so whatever.  But I'll keep looking.
Wishing: My family lived closer. I've never mentioned that before here, right? ;-)
Missing: My sisters. See above.
WearingThis sweater.  I was worried it would look bulky or old on me, but I absolutely love it.
Enjoying:  Homemade granola.  Turns out I can still find the time to make it happen.


Smelling the Roses...

Time is a funny thing.  The days seem to rush by in a hurried mess of exercising, cleaning, working, playing, cooking, parenting, doing...and then I stop to take a look around and realize a whole month went by!  On the other hand, it already feels like I've been back at work for a lot longer.  I am still meeting people and learning my new environment, but the work part came back very quickly and easily.  I am confident I made the right decision, so hurray for that. 
Things are going well, but I do recognize the need to stop and take a look around more often.  This week, I decided to take more scenic back roads to work for no other reason than to admire the beauty of historic New England towns in Autumn.  It's almost too difficult, because I want to stop and walk around Walden Pond and admire the foliage, but the drive alone is spectacular.  I've also left the music off at times, appreciating the silence.  I am reminded of the daily meditations that I used to enjoy at the end of my work days, after the kids went to bed.  I haven't done that since I stopped working, but I didn't miss it.  I was finding many moments of peace throughout the day.  Now I think I'll have to go back to being a little more purposeful about making time for it.  Life is too short not to appreciate and savor every day. 
We are all settled into the school and work routine.  Nathan read his first entire book to me last night, and I am still smiling as a result.  Aaron is learning about butterflies and knows more U.S. state facts than I do.  School is fun, and it is a joy to be able to go through it again with my children.  Aaron also started reading Harry Potter, and I must admit I am excited to experience the series again. 
The boys have been working on their lists for Santa - yes, already, I think they started them in August - and we've been discussing plans for Aaron's 8th birthday party.  He's thinking Lego, which is awesome and fun.  But up first - Halloween!  And a very full house for Thanksgiving!  That most wonderful and busy time of year is upon us, and I am so looking forward to it all.  It's time to start planning...
We are in the parenting sweet spot.  At 5 and almost 8, my boys are firmly out of the baby/toddler years.  They eat well, they sleep well, they are independent in so many ways.  But they are several years away from the pre-teen/teen years that can come with confusion and angst and rebellion and emotional distance.  They still snuggle, and they run to me when they get hurt.  They hold my hand.  They like to help out around the house.  They say "I love you" without reservation and not only in response.  They ask for permission (most of the time).  They want and expect to spend time together as a family.  Hopefully most of these things will continue through the teenage years, but for now, I'm choosing to soak them all in.  Every sweet moment with my boys. 
This weekend, we plan to go pick out our pumpkins and start raking the leaves.  And as I watch my boys run and jump in the resulting pile, I'm going to make sure I stop what I'm doing and appreciate that moment. 

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